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Legalease, Lawyer
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Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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I live in North Adams, MA and my neighbor put up a fence (posts

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I live in North Adams, MA and my neighbor put up a fence (posts 8 feet apart with plastic netting connecting them) last year. They did not have the property surveyed prior to errecting it. I have also not had the property surveryed. According to the previous owner, the fence runs directly down the property line between our propertys. They did not ask me about the fence. They have not maintained my side of the lawn/edging of the fence. I was told that in order to put a fence up, it had to be at least 5 feet from the property line and the person owning the fence should maintain both sides of the fence. What do I do?



Do you know whether or not the homeowner applied for a building permit to erect the fence?




Customer: replied 6 years ago.
No. I do not know. They had a company come in and put it up.

Hello. I am in Massachusetts and we do have general laws regarding the building and maintaining of fences. The laws are located at Ch 49 sections 1-15 and you can read the actual statutes here:


The language is somewhat archaic, but the law in MA states that both property owners are responsible for maintaining a fence along common boundary lines and if the fence was in disrepair, both property owners are responsible for the cost of maintenance and of erecting a new fence if needed. The law requires that the fence be erected on the property line and there are no laws requiring him to maintain any property on your side of the fence. You tell me that a fence company erected it and they are usually pretty careful about pulling any needed permits with the town and with putting the fence on the property line.


The only way you will be able to do anything about this fence is to have your property surveyed and prove that it does not exist on the true property boundary between the properties -- if you can show that, then you can bring a lawsuit to have him move the fence to the true boundary between the properties. Other than that, there really will not be much you can do about the fence if he claims it is on the property line and you have no way of proving that it is not on the property lines.




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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your response. But I am trying to wrap my head around this finding. So, you are saying that anyone can put up a fence on their property line, without even asking the neighbor, and if the fence gets damaged... I have to help pay for the repair when I did not even want the fence? I have to carefully weedwack up the fenceline so I do not damage the "plastic mesh" fencing?

They cannot make you pay for the fence unless there was a fence there previously and the neighbor is replacing it (the fencing runs with both properties -- meaning that anyone who purchases either property after the erection of the original fence is responsible to maintain and/or replace that original fence according to MA law). But yes, the statute actually calls for the other neighbor (that would be you) to pay DOUBLE the cost of his/her price of installation if the neighbor who erects the fence asks for reimbursement of the fence installation price and the other neighbor refuses to contribute. That is why I provided you with a link to the statutory references -- I figured you would have a hard time believing what I am telling you. Here is another short article on the subject from ehow -- scroll down to the bottom and read what it says under "shared fences"


So, if your neighbor was replacing an existing fence, you might not want to raise too much of a stink because he might try to get you to pay for half of the installation of that fence. If your neighbor erected a fence out of the blue where none existed prior to that, he cannot sue you for part of the cost of installation -- but he does have the right to erect it on the property line and he does not have to maintain any part of the property that is on your side of the fence.



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